Johnny Brown, Who Played Nathan Bookman on ‘Good Times,’ Passes Away at 84

Johnny-brown
Image: Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Johnny Brown, who was best known for playing housing project superintendent Nathan Bookman on Good Times, passed away on Wednesday, Deadline reports. He was 84. 

Although no cause of death was given by his family, his daughter and actress Sharon Catherine Brown confirmed his passing on Instagram. 

“Our family is devastated. Devastated. Devastated. Beyond heartbroken. Barely able to breathe,” she wrote. “We respectfully ask for privacy at this time because we need a minute to process the unthinkable. To articulate the depths of profound sadness.”

Born on June 11, 1937, in St. Petersburg, Florida, Brown was raised in Harlem. He won an amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater and formed a nightclub act with his future wife, June, and with tap dancer Gregory Hines Jr. and drummer Gregory Hines Sr.

Sammy Davis Jr. was instrumental in Brown’s career, bringing him in as an understudy for Godrey Cambridge role of Ronnie in his Broadway musical adaptation of Golden Boy. When Cambridge was fired, Brown took over the role of Ronnie, and played the role for over 500 performances.

Over the course of his career, Brown appeared in Broadway plays, recorded songs with his band, and appeared as an ensemble cast member on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Because of his contractual obligations to the show, he missed out on playing Redd Foxx’s son on Sanford and Son.

Allan Manning, a former Laugh-In writer, brought Brown to Good Times in 1975 midway through the second season. He would play the role of Nathan Bookman throughout the entire run of the sitcom

During his long career, Brown was on shows including Julia, Maude, The Rookies, Lotsa Luck!, The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker’s Place, Family Matters, Sister, Sister, Moonlighting, and Martin, and was in such films as The Wiz (1978), Poitier’s Hanky Panky (1982), Life (1999), and Town & Country (2001).

In addition to his daughter and his wife of 61 years, survivors include his son, John Jr.

We extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Johnny Brown.

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